Texas Appeals Court Upholds Divorce of Lesbian Couple

Attorney General Greg Abbott does not have jurisdiction to appeal the divorce of a lesbian couple in Austin last year, a Texas state appeals court has ruled.

The Dallas Voice reports: Abbott

A Travis County district judge had granted the divorce to lesbian couple Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly last February. Naylor and Daly married in Massachusetts in 2004 before returning to Texas and adopting a child. Abbott’s office appealed their divorce, arguing that judges in Texas cannot grant same-sex divorces because the state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.

Abbott won an appeal last year challenging another same-sex divorce in Dallas, where the 5th District Court of Appeals ruled in his favor.

Apparently the court ruled the way it did because the AG intervened after the divorce was granted, and neither party challenged the state constitution or Family Code.

Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Which Married Male Singer Is Going To Divorce And Go Public With His Already-Out Singing Boyfriend?

BLIND ITEMS — "I have written about this couple before, but apparently it is getting to the point where some kind of public announcement is coming. I don't remember how I described them in the past, but one is an openly gay male singer and the other is also male and a singer and is in a heterosexual marriage. Apparently, now that our married singer has ended his most recent tour, he is going to file divorce proceedings soon. He and the other singer are tired of living in the shadows and want to bring their relationship out in the open." [CDAN] (Note: Accompanying photos do not indicate any relationship to the report.)

Permalink | Post a comment | Add to del.icio.us

Tagged: , , ,


—  admin

If not church/state, could ‘pro-fams’ at least divorce drive to win from right to raise questions?

On September 3, Rev. Cary K. Gordon of Sioux City, Iowa’s Cornerstone World Outreach sent the following letter to fellow pastors in his area:

(zoom in at bottom)

CWO Letter

The whole gist of Mr. Gordon’s letter — beyond linking his political opposition to Hitler, of course — is to encourage pastors to in turn encourage their congregants to vote against the Iowa judges who joined the unanimous decision that removed gender discrimination from the state’s marriage laws. And since Mr. Gordon’s church and all of the other churches to whom he sent the letter are receiving tax exempt status, this kind of activity raises undeniable questions regarding its lawfulness.

So that’s where Americans United for Separation of Church and State steps in. That group has filed a complaint with the IRS, asking that the matter be looked into further:

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, said the church’s campaign is a clear violation of federal tax law.

“I don’t think I have ever seen a more outrageous effort to politicize churches,” said Lynn. “This deplorable scheme seeks to turn houses of worship into dens of inequity and intolerance. I call on the IRS to move swiftly to put a stop to this outrage.

“It’s bad enough that the leaders of this church are using donations from the collection plate to fund a hardball political operation,” Lynn continued. “It’s even more appalling that they are doing so in a bigoted attempt to deny civil rights to a targeted minority. This is downright shameful.”

Iowa Church’s Election Campaign Against State Supreme Court Justices Merits IRS Investigation [AUFSOC&S]

Which is a completely fair move, regardless of where one stands on marriage equality, the upcoming retention vote, church, Hitler comparisons, or any of the other matters at hand. Because the law is concrete. And if a church is violating tax code for *any reason*, citizens have the right, nay, responsibility to raise questions. And we’d say the same exact thing if it were a pro-equality church engaging in questionable election activity.

Well, leave it to the “pro-family” side to once again shirk responsibility, abandon the opportunity to objectively weigh information, and turn their side into the unquestionably innocent victim. This report comes from Focus on the Family:

(click to play audio clip)

*AUDIO SOURCE: Iowa Pastor Menaced for Political Speech [FoTF]

And of course there’s no mention of Gordon’s harsh rhetoric. No mention of the genuine concerns at hand. No talk about all church’s responsibility to make sure they are in accordance with the law. Instead, they talk about the supposed “attacks” being wage against the church, with it all coming down to “praying hard” for the matter to play out favorably for the pastor (again, with no regard for the facts regarding tax law).

Now, will the IRS ultimately side with Americans United for Separation of Church and State? Well, we don’t know. We haven’t dug in far enough to weigh in on how we view the church’s compliance with the law. But the breadth of the case doesn’t matter in terms of our objections. Because the issue here is the right of citizen groups to raise questions, the responsibility for all of us to act in accordance with law, the ethics that churches must follow in order to obtain financial privileges, the need for this nation to maintain fair election practices, and the duty to sometimes drop the merits we see in a particular political fight and instead consider the elements that exist independent of the cause. We are more than willing to do just that. In fact, we insist on doing that. But our opposition never does, which is a major reason why this nation’s so-called “culture war” is such a hot mess of deceptive, dumbed down discourse!

Good As You

—  John Wright

Is Greg Abbott going to sit idly by while a federal court throws out Texas’ gay marriage ban?

Greg Abbott

Ten states have submitted a brief opposing same-sex marriage to the federal appeals court that will decide whether California’s Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution, The Associated Press reports. But guess what? Texas isn’t one of them.

Anti-gay Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who’s fought to prevent Texas courts from recognizing same-sex marriage even for the limited purpose of divorce, has failed to get involved in a case that could ultimately result in the state’s marriage ban being thrown out:

Former Utah Sen. Scott McCoy, the first openly gay state senator, said Saturday he is not surprised Utah signed on to the opposition brief. If the California ruling against Proposition 8 is upheld, it would follow that Utah’s Amendment 3, which defines marriage as a union exclusively between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional, he said.

Abbott’s failure to get involved is even more surprising given that the brief filed Friday specifically argues that states, and not federal courts, should determine whether to allow same-sex marriage. As you may know, Abbott is all about states’ rights and protecting us from Washington and the evil federal government. So what gives?

We’ve contacted spokesman Jerry Strickland to find out why the Texas AG’s office has chosen to sit this one out, but thus far no response. Stay tuned.

—  John Wright

Waters: Ban Hetero Divorce

JOHN WATERS ON COLBERT REPORT X390 (GRAB) | ADVOCATE.COMSpeaking Sunday at the North Louisiana Gay and Lesbian Film Festival,
famed director John Waters offered up a suggestion: ban heterosexual
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

From OMG! to O-your-G!: As millennials divorce church and state, elders seek Marriage Wars 2.0

So Lifeway Research, a Christian polling and data outfit, released a new report that says 61% percent of those Americans born between 1980-1991 are either Screen Shot 2010-09-03 At 9.15.16 Amsomewhat or strongly accepting of same-sex marriage. Which even sounds low to us, knowing what we know about this generation. But again: Lifeway is a conservative evangelical firm, so — yea.

Okay, so in this data, Lifeway also reported this finding:

Two-thirds of those with no religious preference agree strongly there is nothing wrong with same-sex marriage, while only 1 in 7 of those who say they trust Christ as Savior agree strongly. Further, 46 percent of those who say they trust Christ as Savior strongly disagree and in fact find fault with marriage between members of the same gender.” [SOURCE]

Not a big surprise. While there are welcome exceptions, we pro-LGBT peeps know that the evangelical church is still our most reliably consistent well of opposition. Kids who are brought up in the church are typically injected with fear about LGBT people from the moment they start putting two Barbies together in one dream house. Anti-gay indoctrination is the all-too-reliable order of the evangelical day.

But the good thing about that: We LGBT activists and lawyers and varied equality voices are talking about CIVIL marriage equality. CIVIL. As in disconnected from the church by law. As in a custom where the religious ceremonial component is fully optional, but the CIVIL marriage license is a requirement (at least if the couple wants the state/fed. rights and benefits). Civil marriage, as in the institution that all heterosexual Americans experience now, with churches free to make whatever decisions they want in regards to the couples they will and will not marry or solemnize or recognize or chicken dance-erize. So in a perfect world, the above passage about evangelicals’ personal faith-based feelings should not even come into play into the civil marriage conversation. Those feelings are for their own family, in terms of what weddings they will or won’t attend and what gift registries they will and won’t acknowledge, and their own church membership bodies, in terms of what weddings they will accommodate. We *FULLY* respect their right to make these decisions.

Unfortunately, the evangelical opposition is not willing to afford us the same respect. Here is Lifeway president Thom Ranier talking to Focus on the Family:

It will be a critical issue for churches – soon to be led by Millennials – to establish their biblical positions on the issue of same-sex relationships,” he said. “If it is to find relevance with Millennials, the church must be willing to deal directly with the issue of same-sex attraction and relationships. The church must voice a clear, biblical ethic of sexuality.” [SOURCE]

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! Here we have research that shows milliennials are more supportive of gay people’s civil rights than any generation to come before (and again, we think the Lifeway data is still low). We also see, unsurprisingly, that evangelical Christians are one of the biggest sticking points (the survey also cites Men, African-Americans, and Southerners as greater resisters). But the man whose firm conducted this survey responds by saying that more church-infused opinion is the answer? That more condemnation of same-sex relationships is the way we handle gay people’s placement within civil society? That more church injection into American politics is the answer, even while similar studies show that millennials are increasingly turned off by the church, with anti-gay attitudes cited as a reason why?

Just NO! What modern-day “culture warriors” like Mr. Ranier and Focus on the Family need/must do is realize/admit that their overwrought attempt to control civil law with personal faith is something that has wounded modern American politics/government! The Falwell era? Well, it may have Fared-well for a spell, but it ultimately FAILed-well too. It divided us deeply. The hand was overplayed, with the overreaching both exposing the inadequacies of the evangelicals’ argument against LGBT people’s rights, as well as raising questions among increasingly inquisitive younger generations about why, exactly, the church feels like it has any kind of right to set public policy in such a way. It is past time for the religious right to admit these mistakes, learn from these missteps, and move on to a more tenable position. A position that absolutely utilizes their own religious freedom to shout their anti-LGBT biblical interpretations with a ferocity, a right that we would theoretically join them in court in defending. But it’s also a position that must stop acting as if all Americans, by virtue of birth, chose one of two options: (1) To willfully join their national church, or (2) sit quietly and doodle on the church bulletin while the national sermon shapes the constitution. Just like choir director Barbara Jean’s reliably inedible covered dishes, this sort of forced national church fellowship is primed to spoil even before a young chuch-goer can complete the question, “aren’t their homeless and hungry people who could use our time, energy, and funding?

Good As You

—  John Wright

Springfield’s Catholic High School Lets Staffers Divorce, But Removes Those Who Gay Marry

Normally it's kids getting kicked out of Catholic schools for having gay parents. But for Christine Judd, the now-former athletic director and dean of students, being forced out of Cathedral High School, part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, only took marrying her lesbian partner.


Permalink | Post a comment | Add to del.icio.us
Tagged: , , , , , ,


—  John Wright

GLAAD President on His Divorce

Jarrett Barrios X390 (COURTESYGLAAD) | ADVOCATE.COMGay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation president Jarrett Barrios
says that while the main focus on gay rights may be marriage, it also
includes the right to divorce.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

Couple married in Mass. can’t divorce in Texas

Texas doesn’t have to grant a divorce to a same-sex couple married in Massachusetts:

Gay couples legally married in other states cannot get a divorce in Texas, where same-sex marriage is banned, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The 5th Texas Court of Appeals ruled that a Dallas district court judge didn’t have the authority to hear a divorce case involving two Dallas men who married in Massachusetts in 2006. Republican state Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office had appealed after Judge Tena Callahan, a Democrat, said she did have jurisdiction and dismissed the state’s attempt to intervene.

Now, a hetero couple married in Massachusetts can get a divorce in Texas. But, Texas doesn’t allow same-sex marriages and doesn’t have to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Texas is “protected” by DOMA. Specifically, Section 2 of DOMA, codified as 28 USC § 1738C, which reads:

No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.

Other legally married Americans have the freedom to move around the country, knowing their relationships are valid. But, same-sex couples don’t have that protection.

To quote Obama, DOMA really is an “abhorrent law.”


—  John Wright

Texas Court of Appeals Rules Same-Sex Couple Can Not Seek an In-State Divorce

Today, the Texas Court of Appeals for the Fifth District, located in Dallas, ruled that a same-sex couple that had married in Massachusetts could not legally seek a divorce, following their move to Texas.  The case,  entitled In re the Marriage of J.B. and H.B.,  was appealed by the state following a victory in the lower court in which the judge had granted the two men a divorce and declared Texas’ mini-Defense of Marriage Act (mini-DOMA) as violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  The state argued that since Texas did not recognize the men’s marriage as valid, they were not eligible for the remedy of divorce.  Specifically, Texas claimed that the courts did not have jurisdiction, or the right and power, to even hear the case and thus it should be dismissed.

The Appeals Court looked to the language of the Texas mini-DOMA in deciding that it was clear that the legislature intended to declare same-sex marriages illegal and thus the court could not acknowledge their existence, even for the purpose of granting a divorce from a legal marriage in another state.  The court denied the principle of comity, which requires that courts in one state give effect to the laws of another state, stating that it would not extend comity to other states, if doing so would violate Texas public policy.  The court rejected rulings from other states, including New York, which allowed such divorces, even though same-sex couples may not yet legally marry in New York.  It also stated that there was no fundamental right to same-sex marriage and that sexual orientation was not a suspect classification, denying that the mini-DOMA in Texas violated the Fourteenth Amendment.  This ruling stands in sharp contrast to that issued by Judge Walker in the California Prop 8 decision, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which held that such a right existed and that sexual orientation should be protected as a suspect class. 

A second Texas case, in which a judge in Austin granted a divorce to a lesbian couple, is likely to be appeal by the State to the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District, with one or both of these cases potentially winding up in the Texas Supreme Court.

The Texas case is but one decision in an ongoing judicial debate across the nation regarding how much deference states with no relationship recognition or even explicit laws on the books which deny any rights at all to same-sex couples must accord those states which allow such partnerships.  Returning to the state that issues the marriage license is not an option for most couples as all states currently have a residency requirement for divorce. Generally, at least one half of the couple must live in the state six months or more in order for the state to grant a divorce.  Relationship termination is an essential part of allowing both individuals to move on with their lives. Until the federal Defense of Marriage Act is repeal by Congress or struck down by the Supreme Court, couples will continue to be vulnerable during the most difficult period in their relationship.

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright